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A Message from students and other members of the educational community:
We, students and workers from New York and around the world, support the Free Cooper Union. United in our struggle and our resistance, we stand in solidarity with our friends who have overtaken President Jamshed Bharucha’s office, transforming it into a growing occupation of more than 100 members of the Cooper community to ensure that the 150-year-old academic institution remains tuition free.
We add our voices to theirs in calling for President Bharucha to resign, and for Cooper Union preserve its foundational mission of free education for all. This is a struggle we are not only in solidarity with, but of which we are a part. We join Free Cooper Union in rejecting corporate control over our schools. And we demand governance by students, workers and faculty.
Our actions in New York are part of a global student movement against a business model of education that seeks profits for the few over the backs of the many, leading to record-setting debt and increasing inaccessibility to learning. From Chile to Egypt, from Quebec to Puerto Rico, from Turkey to Mexico, we have seen students take action to prevent the corporatization and privatization of education. Like them, we believe that access to education is an inherent human right, not a privilege.
We live in a climate where:
—Unaccountable, non-transparent administrators and boards of trustees regularly commit fiscal mismanagement, choosing financial gain over education. Examples of this have been seen in the changing governance structures removing almost all student input at Medgar Evers College, the administrative control over curriculum through CUNY Pathways and the lack of response to multiple no-confidence votes at NYU and Cooper Union.
—Students of color are targeted and marginalized, exemplified by the attack on Medgar Evers College. With a significant place in African American history and a student body of primarily students of color, Medgar Evers College is now facing vindictive measures, such as the closure of its library, that have rendered it dysfunctional.
—Tuition and student debt are rising at never-before-seen rates, making education more and more inaccessible.
—Racist policies of expansionism and gentrification of neighborhoods are commonplace, leading to the displacement of mostly communities of color including, but not limited to, Columbia University’s expansion into Harlem, NYU’s global and local growth, the effects on accessible housing for CUNY students, and Cooper Union’s takeover of the Charas community space.
—Investment in military research is more likely than investment in scholarships, where ROTC presence on campuses results in an economic draft in which members of poor communities must resort to exchanging military service for education.
—Policing of university campuses through an introduction of armed security guards has become routine, as have surveillance of marginalized communities based on ideological positions, religion, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
—A racist mass incarceration system is entrenched, operating within educational institutions through the school-to-prison pipeline that specifically targets students of color.
When we speak of free education at the Cooper Union, we do not mean this merely in terms of cost, and we do not mean for Cooper Union to be the only institution where this is possible. We see ‘free education’ as ‘free’ of all the oppressive structures detailed above, and more. We understand the Free Cooper Union as a symbol, a possibility, or rather a necessity for us all.
Remembering that Cooper Union, as well as CUNY, saw no need to institute tuition during the two World Wars or the Great Depression, we stand by the unrelenting efforts of the students of Cooper Union in refusing to remain silent and accept tuition as a necessity when top-shelf administrators, who see no decrease in their salaries, take no responsibility for their financial mismanagement.
We, the undersigned, unequivocally support the occupation of administrative space by the students of Cooper Union both as a symbol and as a citywide call to action for the educational community and its supporters, to reclaim our institutions from the increasing trend of corporatization and privatization, because we cannot afford to remain silent!
To sign the statement below click here.